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Humpbacks & Dolphins

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, November 07, 2019

James S.

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Common dolphin leaping out of the water Aquarium of the Pacific

Along with the usual suspects at this time of year we had a very curious gray whale exploring the Los Angeles Port. According to our staff and Harbor Breeze’s crews a younger gray whale made its way up the L.A. port side all the way past the U.S.S. Iowa before it decided to turn around and make its way back out. Even a quick breach from the gray whale to excite our guests before they went out to the open ocean. Sometimes the younger whales haven’t fully memorized the migration route or it could even be the first time this whale has made the trek without its mom, so sometimes they peek inside the harbor and the port before realizing they turn around and head back outside of the breakwall. According to the naturalists and captains the whale looked fairly healthy and was a decent sized whale so it probably was just a little turned around. We’re so happy we get to see these animals in our urban ocean, but we’re also happy that we can find them and then communicate their whereabouts to other boats and ships in the area, including the U.S. Coast Guard at times. The more we can learn about all our local species and communicate those findings the better equipped we will be to help preserve their habitats and work to ensure their safety in such a busy and bustling area of our coastlines.

We’re seeing more and more pacific white sided dolphins now which is a sign that the fall and winter migrations are now in full swing and that we should start seeing more of these beautiful animals during our whale watches. Pacific white sided dolphins are a seasonal animal for us here in the Long Beach area with their total range extending in the Eastern Pacific from the Bering Sea down to Central Mexico. Some of the members of this species migrate to continental shelves in the winter (from offshore to nearshore) and others will migrate south from November though April. The white sided pods we encounter appear to perform both of these, when mapping out the sightings they mostly appear in the shallow waters of our shelf (100-300ft deep) off of the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports. And our sighting frequencies tend to fit the November - April time period as well. Like any other migrating species we may see some earlier or later than the typical season.

The pacific white sided dolphins is one of my favorite species and I get so excited when we start seeing them more regularly. So far we’ve recorded a few sightings of the Pacific white sided dolphins in the last month and hopefully that’s a sign of many more to come. This dolphin can often be confused for our common dolphins at a distance, they are similar in size reaching lengths of 5-8ft long and weighing upwards of 300lbs, and are about as acrobatic as our common dolphins.

Well just because daylight savings has ended doesn’t mean our whale watches have stopped. Whale watches board every day at 12 and 3pm out of Long Beach right in front of the Aquarium of the Pacific. Get your combo ticket here to explore our 12,000 animals on exhibit including our new expansion Pacific Visions. Then get on to the whale watch with Harbor Breeze Cruises and discover all the beauty that our urban ocean has to offer.

See you on the water!

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